Kayaking Safety

Kayaking is a great form of recreation and relaxation, but it’s important to be safe when going out on the water.  There are many simple safety precautions that could be invaluable in the event of something bad actually happening.  This guide should get you set to have a fun and safe kayaking experience.

Before going out kayaking it’s very important to know the weather forecast.  If there is a chance of storms or windy weather, there could be large waves and lightening that could ruin your kayaking experience.  For the sake of safety, it’s also important to check the water temperature.  If you were to fall into very cold water, you could run the risk of becoming hypothermic.  To ensure your safety, if the water temperature is under 65 degrees Fahrenheit you should either wear a wet suit or abstain from kayaking that day.  Wet suits are designed to keep kayakers warm even if the material becomes wet, and can be purchased from most outdoor sports retailers.

Dressing appropriately for the weather is important down to choosing proper footwear.  It’s important to choose something that’s easy to wear in the water.  Sandals with straps are a good choice in warm water kayaking because they won’t fall off if you fall in the water and they the bottoms of your feet from sharp rocks.  For cold weather, there are many brands of wet suit booties designed to keep your feet safe and warm.

Additionally, you should always wear a life vest when kayaking.  Regardless of what you may think, they are an invaluable safety measure for kayakers.  Kayaks are very tippy boats and in the event your boat was to flip over, you could potentially hit your head on a rock and be knocked unconscious.  Life preservers help assure that in the event of an accident you will stay safely afloat.

Spray skirts are another item to look into to help ensure a safe kayaking trip.  Wearing one around your waist and fastening it around your kayak’s cockpit will keep water from getting into your kayak.  When kayaks fill with water, they become less stable.  Spray skirts also make kayaking more comfortable and give you more control over your kayak.  While there are many benefits to using one, it’s important to practice removing your spray skirt safely before kayaking so that when you’re on the water you can easily remove it in the event of capsizing.

If you are expecting to kayak in an area with large waves or wakes from ships, you should learn brace strokes with your kayak paddle.  Bracing can help you maintain balance when waves rock your kayak.  To perform a brace, stick your paddle end so that it is perpendicular to the water, and push the flat paddle end down against the water to keep your kayak balanced.  Good bracing technique can be easily learned from any kayaking instructor, or even from instructional YouTube videos (though firsthand experience is important).

When kayaking, it is much safer to stay close to shore than to cut though the middle of open water.  This way in the event of an accident, it’s much easier to reach land and safety.  Also most speedboats travel through the open water.  Because kayaks sit very low in the water, visibility can be an issue.  Having a brightly colored kayak or reflective life vest can help ensure that your kayak will be visible.

In addition to this, speedboats create wakes when they pass.  In open water near the boats, the wakes are much stronger and more dangerous than they are by the time they get near the shore.  For this reason if you aren’t well versed in bracing techniques, it’s safest to stick close to the shore.

Before going out kayaking, especially if you plan on kayaking alone, it is very important to tell someone where you are going and the time by which you plan to return.  This is a very simple safety procedure, and will help ensure that if you get in trouble someone will help rescue you.  Many lakes and reservoirs share this safety concern and have a sign-in and sign-out sheet for hikers, kayakers, and other boaters to use.

Now you have the information you need to have a fun and safe kayaking trip.  Whether a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, accidents can still happen so you should always be prepared.  Following these simple tips will help you enjoy nature and be ready for your next adventure.